We’ve had a Brexit Party leaflet through our door. It was addressed to my wife, leaving me unsullied. Our eldest son has had one at his flat – so that’s two pieces of propaganda fallen on stony doormats.
If you must hand one thing to Nigel Farage – and the wearing of gloves is advisable – that man sure knows how to stir up a shitstorm and then stand back to shout about the very same shitstorm.
Back in the days when he ran UKIP, in between walking out and skulking back, he used to turn irritable if people said UKIP were a single-issued party. Everybody knew they were a single-issue party; Farage knew they were a single-issue party, having drawn breath into its nicotine lungs only to cough out the Eurosceptic phlegm. But he kept up the lie in the pretence of being like other politicians – you know, the ones he hated because they wouldn’t let him into their gang.
Single-issue politics have pulled us into this swampy mess. Shouting about one issue makes everything sound so simple yet ignores the complications that will follow.
I don’t think that even Farage now pretends that his Brexit Party is anything other than a single-issue party – the Party of Nigel, set up because the Original Party of Nigel turned too nasty even for him (and isn’t that something).
One of many odd aspects of Farage is that his brand of snake-oil popularism is drawn from dissatisfaction with politicians. He uses his anti-politician populism as a lure for votes – he hates politicians, yet he is one, and has been for 20 years, earning a comfortable living by being an irritant in the European Parliament (while also raking in the expenses).
The leaflet Farage sent to my wife has two repetitive slogans: “Politics is broken. Let’s change it for good” and – in case that’s too wordy for you – “Change politics for good.”
Change politics for good; make America great again – potent yet meaningless slogans from the same drawer of lies. It’s depressing that we live in an age where shouty bigots are heard above everyone else; and an age where too many people nod along to the shouty bigots, thinking they might have a point.
Farage has dedicated his disputatious life to getting us in this mess. As one of the right-wing architects of Brexit, he has no answers – just aggressive slogans; he doesn’t do solutions, he just shoves his fingers in the wound and gives them a waggle. He is the ultimate disruptor, a man who smashes everything up without any intention of putting any of it back together again.
And yet two of today’s newspapers have polls giving buoyancy to the Brexit Party. The Observer poll puts the Brexit Party on 34% of the vote in the Euro election, while the Sunday Telegraph poll suggest his party would do serious damage to the Tories in a general election, leaving a Labour majority.
Why anyone would vote for Farage’s ragbag collection of mouldy malcontents is a mystery. Did you hear Ann Widdecombe the other day? Dear me, she went off on one, saying that a no-deal Brexit would be as nothing compared to the sacrifices of the Second World War.
Well, that’s great, isn’t it? Brexit has gone from a brave new (mostly) right-wing wet dream to something that won’t be as bad as the war.
“My granny was bombed out in Plymouth. People lost sons and husbands and fathers and they did this because they wanted freedom,” she ranted and raved. Ann is 72, which means that she was two when the war ended, so perhaps she should calm down a bit.
An old woman ranting to other old people about the past is a depressing sight – and I write those words as someone who’s getting on a bit too. I am sure there are young people who support Brexit, but most supporters seem to be drawn from that grumbling congregation of oldies.
Sadly, the remain side seem intent on making Farage’s life easy by splitting into spot-the-difference factions.